WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

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Analysis: Prepping For Leadership Transitions In Federal Agencies

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President Obama is expected to nominate several new federal department secretaries in the coming weeks, which will mean transitions for federal employees, thousands of them in the D.C. area. Charles Clark, senior correspondent for Government Executive talks about that transition with WAMU Morning Edition Host Matt McCleskey. Here are some highlights:

On the changes employees see in federal agencies when a new secretary comes in: "I do notice the career people have a challenge. They have to balance their demand for keeping the agenda moving forward but they can't be presumptuous and assume it's a permanent role," Clark says. "I've talked to people at OPM [Office of Personnel Management] where the incoming director during one transition specifically asked the people who were already there, some of whom may have coveted the job, to go slow and keep options open. And I can remember on one of the regulatory commissions, the incoming person learned that the outgoing leader had spent all the travel money."  

On which departments or agencies to keep an eye on in this transition period: "Everyone has noticed that Hillary Clinton is stepping down at the State Department. Leon Panetta may move out of the Pentagon and Tim Geithner has said he will leave Treasury," Clark says. "We also have acting leaders at the Commerce Deparment, the IRS, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and an acting budget director. Then, I just read in today's Wall Street Journal that the SEC leader may leave early … she has not committed to that."

How the controversy over the possible nomination of Susan Rice — the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations — for Secretary of State, could be disruptive at the State Department: "It would certainly be disruptive in the capital city. It has been very politicized, the Susan Rice episode. There was the letter from 97 house Republcans making a political point that they don't think she's qualified," Clark says. "But the people I talked to inside State feel that a lot of that goes way upstairs on the 7th floor and the career civil servants and foreign service people are sort of determined to go about their business, and they're mainly concerned with whether their budget's going to be cut." 

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